Bound to Lose

Woody_Guthrie_2(Photo from Wikipedia)

I’m writing this as we are coming up on the anniversary of the deadly “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA, as white supremacists are gearing up for another big ass rally in Washington. Steven and I watched the ProPublica/Frontline documentary “Documenting Hate” last night, and I can’t think of another word besides “chilling” to describe it. I drank my tea this morning and listened to this total nonsense from Jason Kessler, the organizer of the rally who claims, without a hint of irony, that he is “not a white supremacist.” I’ve spent a lot of the last year feeling mad as hell and powerless, doing what I can in the ways that I can.

And I’ve also listened to this song a lot. It’s called “All You Fascists.” Here are the lyrics if you don’t want to fuss with the music.

I’m gonna tell all you fascists, you may be surprised
People all over this world are getting organized
You’re bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose

Race hatred cannot stop us, this one thing I know
Poll tax and Jim Crow and greed have got to go
You’re bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose

All you fascists are bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose
You’re bound to lose, you fascists
Are bound to lose

People of every color marching side by side
Marching across these fields where a million fascists died
You’re bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose

All you fascists are bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose
You fascists are bound to lose
You’re bound to lose, you fascists are bound to lose

 Woody Guthrie wrote and recorded the song sometime in the 1940s, and in the 1990s, Billy Bragg and Wilco wrote new music and recorded it as part of the Mermaid Avenue project. (If y’all don’t know about the Mermaid Avenue albums, you should absolutely go check them out. They are some of my very favorites).

Woody Guthrie’s original recording sounds, well, like a Woody Guthrie song. The Billy Bragg and Wilco version is rollicking—it is a rocking, hopeful anthem, and it plays on the regular in the Republica Unicornia: after Charlottesville, after the news about children being separated from their families at the US border, after each clip of the current occupant of the White House bloviating about America First. And sometimes we play it on a regular Tuesday because it feels like we are moving backwards, not forwards as a society—like greed, racism, sexism, homophobia, nationalism, and hate are winning. It feels like every day we are getting further away from our own better angels.

There has been some Shit Going Down on Instagram in the knitting sphere as of late—when knitters/designers/dyers bring up that the hot mess that is the world we live in they are met with vitriol: being told, essentially, in hateful terms, that they should stick to their knitting and no one cares what they think. “I come here for pretty yarn, not your political opinions!”

I’m enough of an old school feminist to think that the personal is always political—that what we do with our hands, what we make, the art we produce—is a reflection of who we are and what we stand for. I was at the Women’s March on Washington in January of 2017, when the Pussy Hat thing was in full force. I wasn’t a knitter then, but I remember being blown away by the power in a simple pink hat with kitty ears. The Pussy Hat was knitting—something that had long been devalued as women’s private, uninteresting work—turned into a symbol of resistance. It was genius.

One of the things that was a surprise to me when I got super into knitting (about three months after the march) was how strong this community is. Through a shared love of making squishy things, I have found connection with the most amazing human beings, some very much like me and some not. Knitting has made me kinder and fiercer and bolder. It has reminded me that sometimes the ties that bind us are stitches on a needle. It has held me together in a lot of ways—the soothing, repetitive nature of knitting has kept me from throwing things at the television.

The arc of the moral universe, Dr. King said, is long, but bends toward justice. I have a hard time believing this some days. I feel powerless a lot of time in the current climate: like the forces of hatred and injustice are so strong and pervasive that they can’t be stopped. But then I think about Woody Guthrie.

Because in addition to writing a marvelous fight song against fascism, he also kept a sign on his guitar that said, “This Machine Kills Fascists.”

I love this so much. I was listening to a podcast about Woody the other day (doing my research), and they talked about the origins of the slogan. Apparently, tanks during WWII were made with a sign that said, “This machine kills fascists,” and Woody said, “My guitar is my machine.”

Hell yeah. Woody Guthrie knew that music and beauty and telling the truth could kill fascists—not literally (duh), but that these things could starve the forces that feed the development of fascism. Fascism reflects the darkest parts of human nature: our tendency toward tribalism, fear, hatred, pride, and greed. It’s the Dark Side IRL. And whether or not you believe that the current US political climate has fascist overtones (I do, for the record), I hope we can all agree that there is something amiss.

The roots of my business’ name are deeply political—my husband Steven started calling our house Republica Unicornia in the wake of the last presidential election as a reminder that in our space, creativity, diversity, acceptance, and love would flourish, no matter what happened in the life of our country. I stand for all of these things, both in my home and in my business. And I will do so, loudly and publicly, until I can see that bend in the arc of the moral universe. (If you choose not to buy my stuff because of that, that’s your decision. I wish you all the best.)

So! I took a cue from St. Woody and my amazing friend/graphic designer Amanda came up with this design, and am having enamel pins made. (Sidenote—my new printers are the AMAZING ladies behind Tower Press and you should check them out and give them all of your money because they are fabulous).

These Needles Kill Fascists

To be clear, I’m not advocating actually stabbing fascists with your knitting needles. For one thing, I’m staunchly anti-violence. For another, it wouldn’t be effective. They’re not that sharp, even the metal ones.

I hemmed and hawed with the wording on these pins. I had said amazing friend/graphic designer Amanda change it to “These Needles Kill Fascism,” because LET ME BE CLEAR. I DO NOT BELIEVE IN KILLING ANYONE, NO MATTER HOW ABHORRENT I FIND THEIR IDEOLOGY.  But this felt watered-down and not true to the spirit of the original. I’m not in the mood for wishy-washy anymore. The fire of “These Needles Kills Fascists” feels true and right to me. Incendiary seems appropriate. And I think Woody would approve.

Also, y’all, the hot pink yarn ball WILL BE GLITTERY because SPARKLES ARE TOXIC TO INJUSTICE. FACT.

If you’d like to get your paws on one of these, head on over to the shop for preorders.  I’ll ship them out as soon as they are in my hot little hands (allow 4-6 weeks).

Oh! And 15% of sales from these will go to The Southern Poverty Law Center from now until forever.

The fascists are bound to lose. Keep fighting, y’all.

 

 

 

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